Tag Archives: low sugar

Grain-free, sugar-free granola


Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola, from Cook Eat Paleo

I cannot believe I’ve never posted a link to this recipe for Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola from Cook Eat Paleo! I discovered it more than a year ago, and it’s one of my favorite low-sugar, grain-free treats. I’m not doing the whole pure paleo thing, but there are components of the diet that line up with my nutrition philosophy, so I find paleo food blogs a great source for recipes.

I’ve made my own variation of the original Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola version (notes below). I haven’t made the Cinnamon Raisin Spice Paleo Granola, but it sounds incredibly tasty, too!

This would make a great sugar-free Christmas goody giveaway. (I’ve also put together a list of 12 Homemade Christmas Treats That Aren’t Sweets.) It has no processed sugar, and is sweetened with a small amount of maple syrup, making it vegan-friendly, too.

And here’s my version…

Cranberry Walnut Paleo Granola Recipe

I have halved and tweaked the original recipe. This fits nicely on a 10 x 15″ cookie sheet; and the 4-cup measuring cup works perfectly for a mix-and-pour bowl.

1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
1/2 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds without hulls)
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconut – larger flakes are better
1/8 teaspoon table salt (or 1/4 t. sea salt or kosher salt)
1 Tblsp coconut oil, melted
1.5 Tblsp maple syrup
1/2 cup dried cranberries and/or other dried fruit; I like to use these pre-chopped prune bits called “Amazins

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. Prepare a rimmed cookie sheet by lining it with parchment paper, or lining it with foil that’s oiled or sprayed.

Combine nuts, pepitas, and coconut in mixing bowl, or a 4-cup measuring cup. Mix together coconut oil and maple syrup until well combined, and stir into nut mix.

Spread the mixture evenly on the prepared cookie sheet. Optional: sprinkle with 1/4 t. kosher  or sea salt.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until coconut is just lightly browned. (Your oven may vary.)

Remove from oven, add the dried cranberries and/or Amazins, and toss to combine. Cool completely before serving.

Disclosure: “Amazin” links go through my Amazon affiliation, but you can find them at your local grocery.

Chai Tea for Two (latte, if you like)

I  remember the first time I tasted chai, in a friend’s kitchen. The creamy texture and slightly spiced flavor took me by surprise. “Oh wow!” I said. “This is like drinking pumpkin pie!”
image: livesimply.me
Since that first taste, I’ve loved chai, but I don’t drink it often because if you make it with a purchased mix or buy it in a coffee shop, it’s usually loaded with sugar. However, inspired by this recipe for Chai Tea Latte from Live Simply (and modified to reduce the syrup), I’ve been making this the past couple days, and it’s the perfect cold-weather pick-me-up when you want something richer than plain tea. (The original recipe makes enough for four servings, so you can enjoy one right away and then keep the extra on hand in the fridge. Smart! I love make-aheads!)
It uses maple syrup for the sweetener, but you can substitute the sugar or sweetener of your choice. I also replaced the half-and-half with culinary coconut milk; the canned kind; not the thinner stuff that comes in quart cartons. But you can use half-and-half, or another dairy substitute that you like. I’ve also streamlined the process a bit because, well, I’m impatient! I use a ready-made spice mix. And I use the microwave, and just let it steep for two or three minutes. But if you’re patient and have the time, you can let it steep the full five minutes at each step.
Chai mixture:
1 cup water
1-1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice*
1 tea bag or about 1.5 teasp. loose tea — any unflavored black tea will do
1 TB pure maple syrup
1 or 2 grinds of freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Latte additions:
1/2 cup milk of your choice     
    (recommended: something rich and somewhat fatty, like coconut milk or half-and-half.)
maple syrup to taste
Put the water and spice mix in a glass measuring cup or other microwave-safe container and heat until it steams. Take it out, and let sit for at least two and up to five minutes. Cut open the tea bag and pour the contents into the hot water. Add a couple grinds of black pepper if you like. Return it to the microwave and heat again till steaming. Let it steep for three to five minutes.
While it’s steeping, prepare the milk. Heat it slightly in the microwave. Do NOT let it boil. 
Frothing the milk is optional — but it’s the thing that takes this drink from chai to chai latte. There are various ways to froth the milk. You can do this with a stick blender, or by hand, using this method, or just by holding a wire whisk and rolling it quickly between your palms like this: 
(The baby orangutan is optional.)
At this time, you can also preheat your two serving cups, to help the chai stay hotter. Fill them with the hottest water that will come out of your tap, and let that sit till you’re ready to serve.
Once the tea is done steeping, dump the hot water out of your serving cups. Pour the tea mixture through a fine sieve into another container. Rinse the sieve, then pour through it again as you’re decanting the tea into each serving cup. Top with even portions of the milk, and taste to see if you want more sweetness; sweeten to taste.
Then snuggle into a cozy chair and drink that pumpkin pie!

*If you don’t have pumpkin pie or apple pie spice mix, you may use:
1 whole clove (optional)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
pinch ground nutmeg (optional)
pinch ground allspice (optional)

Super-simple creamy Italian dressing

creamy Italian dressing - sugar-free option

Creamy Italian dressing is one of my husband’s favorite salad dressings. It’s getting harder to find in the grocery store, and the ones that we had tried tasted so fake and sugary — the side effect of making pretty much all your salad dressings from scratch.

Then I found this one! The original recipe is on AllRecipes, but I’ve tweaked it to make it my own; I reduced the sugar and made a few other minor tweaks. Make it without the sugar, and use homemade mayo, and you’ve got a Paleo, Whole30-compliant Italian dressing!

Tried it; loved it; it’s a keeper!

I made it as a spread/dip for homemade submarine sandwiches a couple nights ago. My husband still misses a sub that Pizza Hut used to have on the menu, which had a similar spread on it, and this recipe is a good fit. Then the next day for lunch, I had a sub-sandwich-inspired salad (shown in the photo above). Romaine lettuce with diced ham, pepperoni, and salami; mozzarella cheese, and diced tomatoes. And pickled onions — which are also a great sandwich topper.

It’s really quick and easy to make. Tastes best if you make it a few hours or a day ahead, but I’ve made some notes in the recipe about how to adapt it if you need to serve it right away.

Yay! No more store-bought creamy Italian dressing!

Creamy Italian Dressing (low or no sugar)

1 clove garlic, minced
1 T. olive oil
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. water
1 t. dried oregano
1/2 t. granulated onion
1/4 t. white sugar*
1/4 t. Worcestershire sauce (optional)

Place the minced garlic and olive oil in a small dish and microwave for 30 seconds.

Combine this and all the other ingredients in a 12 – 16 oz. jar and shake well.

Refrigerate for a few hours; better overnight.

*If you will be storing it 24 hours before use, you might skip the sugar. If you are living sugar-free, you can leave it out or replace it with your favorite sweetener. If you will be serving it right away, you might want to reduce the vinegar slightly and increase the sugar to taste.


Emergency peanut butter cookie recipe

emergency peanut butter cookie recipe
Midnight: you’ve got a bad cookie craving. What to do? Making a whole batch of cookies is a recipe for waking up to regrets! This is perfect: a quick, easy peanut butter cookie recipe with a batch size of two.
Oh, and by the way, they’re sugar-free. Sweetened with good ol’ maple syrup! (Which is important for vegans, and those of us trying to avoid white or brown sugar. Learn more.)
This recipe is from Chocolate Covered Katie’s blog, but I’ve neatened it up a bit.

Quick, easy sugar-free peanut butter cookies

Makes two cookies.
  • 2 T. flour (I used white whole wheat)
  • 1/16 tsp baking soda
  • generous pinch of salt
  • 1.5 T. peanut butter
  • 1.5 T. maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • optional: add some chocolate chips if you wish!
Preheat oven to 350 F.
In a cereal bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the remaining ingredients. Mix well and form into two blobs on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. Flatten into cookie shapes (use a fork, and wipe it clean between the first and second cookie).
Bake in preheated oven for 8-11 minutes. Check at 8 minutes, and add one to two minutes at a time until it’s lightly browned in some areas.
Let cool for as long as you can stand it. Enjoy with a glass of milk, if you like. Wake up in the morning with no regrets about having devoured too many cookies the night before!


60-Second Strawberry “Shortcake”

We’ll get to this easy peasy snack how-to in a minute, but first, let’s talk strawberry shortcake.
If you think of strawberry shortcake as Twinkie-like spongecake topped with super-red strawberries in a goopy glaze, then I’m sorry, my friend, but you have been misled.
Imagine warm, fresh from the oven, slightly-sweet/slightly-salty biscuits: think scones. Perfectly crunchy on the outside, broken open so that the tender, steamy shortcake inside can soak up the sweet sauce that results from macerating berries in sugar for an hour or so. Drizzle over that a little half & half — just enough to moisten the biscuits a bit more — then top it with a generous blob or two of vanilla whipped cream! Mmm… the contrast of salty and sweet, crunchy and creamy. Seriously!
I live a pretty low-carb life, but this is the one food that I will never pass up, and will eat till the strawberries are all gone, or my stomach hurts, whichever comes first! Oh, who am I kidding?! If there are still strawberries and shortcake, I’ll keep eating!
And for that very reason, I don’t make it too often. 
But the other day, I had some lovely strawberries on hand — just a few — and was trying to figure out how I could make a satisfying snack out of them. Then, inspiration!
I had a few whole-wheat crackers on hand. Store-brand Wheat Thins, if you must know. That will stand in nicely for the shortcake, I thought. And some vanilla yogurt in the fridge. A dollop of that on a cracker, and a slice of strawberry on top. How easy is that?! And pretty healthy, really.
But easy and healthy are no good if it doesn’t taste good. This does! The crunchiness of the cracker simulates the shortbread crust and flavor; the vanilla yogurt is a pretty good stand-in for its more fat-laden cousin.
It’s also good with a sweetened cream cheese spread — though that knocks the health factor down a notch.
Sure, in a head-to-head battle with real strawberry shortcake, it comes up short. (Ha! Sorry!) But for a 60-second snack, it’ll do just fine. Just fine! And with a lot less guilt.

Seven simple salad dressing recipes

One of the easiest and most delicious things you can do to put healthier food into your body is to learn some recipes for homemade salad dressings. Once you start, you’ll probably never buy the bottled stuff again! Homemade dressings just taste so much fresher.
Plus, they’re so much healthier! Most “Lite” salad dressings you buy in the store are low fat, but that just means a higher percentage of the product is carbs, and almost always sugary ones. When you make your own, you can be sure there’s no corn syrup or {insert evil sweetener of your choice here} in it! I usually use Splenda, but use whatever you want.
Update: I rarely use Splenda any more; usually stevia. I’ve found that one small scoop of stevia extract powder equals one packet of Splenda, but every brand is different, so you might need to experiment.

Here are seven of my favorite homemade salad dressing recipes I’ve posted here in the past. For a healthy body, and happy taste buds!

Buttermilk Ranch (made with Greek yogurt)

simple salad dressing recipes - ranch

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

easy balsamic vinaigrette recipe

Tex-Mex Dressing (just three ingredients!)

simple salad dressing recipes - Tex-Mex

Ginger-peanut Salad Dressing 

simple salad dressing recipes - ginger sesame

 Almost-Panera’s Asian Chicken Salad Dressing

simple salad dressing recipes - Asian salad dressing

Lemon (or Citrus) Poppyseed Dressing

easy citrus poppyseed dressing recipe

 Caesar Salad Dressing

Easy Caesar salad dressing recipe


Update: bonus recipe…

Creamy Italian Dressing

antipasto salad

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing recipe (no coddling needed!)

Genuine Caesar dressing involves codding an egg; that is, cooking it till the white is just cooked and the yolk is slightly thickened but still runny. While delicious, that’s a little fussy for my taste. Also, there is the risk of salmonella.
I discovered this Caesar Salad Dressing recipe in a Good Housekeeping mag a few years ago. (And just now tracked it down online, here.) It uses mayo (light or egg-free, if you want; better yet, homemade), in place of the usual eggs. It’s a great base, but I love a garlicky ‘Caesar, so I’ve added some fresh garlic and tweaked a few other ingredients.
Here it is: super easy to throw together, but it ranks up there with good restaurant salads. It also makes a nice dip for veggies.

Homemade Caesar Salad Dressing Recipe

1/4 c. freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 c. mayonnaise
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 T (or more?) olive oil
1/2 to 1 tsp. anchovy paste
1 garlic clove, crushed (1 large or 2 medium)
optional – 1/4 to 1/2 t. Dijon mustard
optional – fresh ground pepper to taste

First a tip: I grate the Parmesan first. To avoid a mess on the counter or an extra dirty dish, I place the 1/4 measuring cup in the bottom of my mixing bowl and grate right into that. Sure, some extra will spill into the mixing bowl, but this is a case where exact proportions of ingredients aren’t crucial. And a little extra Parm? Never a bad thing!

Then, after dumping and removing the measuring cup, I scoot the grated cheese aside and place all the other ingredients in the void. Whisk those ingredients together, then stir in the cheese. chill for an hour.

Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. If it’s too bland, add more garlic or parmesan. If it’s too sharp, add more olive oil.

Here is the nutrition data from Good Housekeeping; it includes romaine and croutons:
4 g. protein
13 g. carbs (w/ croutons; it would be far less without, for those doing low carb)
8 g. fat

photo credit: Tara Donne, via GH

Ten (or so) Healthier Superbowl Foods – 2013

Looking for the perfect superbowl food? Here are 10 that sound totally yummy! And for bonus points, some of them are low carb, paleo, and/or reduced sugar!
Meatball Sub Casserole from AllRecipes. (I’m not making any “good for you” claims on this one!)
Hot Shrimp Scampi Dip from Go Bold With Butter. (Or this one!)
Healthier Superbowl Foods - shrimp cocktail

Shrimp Cocktail with Low-Sugar Cocktail Sauce from Kalyn’s Kitchen (Kalyn always has great low-carb recipes)

Healthier Superbowl Foods - zucchini lasagna

Grilled Zucchini “Lasagna” with Italian Sausage, also from Kalyn’s Kitchen

Cheesy Vegetable Chowder from Lulu the Baker. Doesn’t this sound scrumptious on a cold day?

Healthier Superbowl Foods - sausage and peppers - Paleo friendly!

Sausage and Peppers from Proud Italian Cook. We made this for Christmas brunch last year and it was a big hit! Easy to make ahead, and cheap and easy way to feed a crowd.Grilled the sausages the day before. (Chill them before slicing. Makes slicing easier and retains more juiciness.)

Healthier Superbowl Foods - avocado bacon deviled eggs - Paleo friendly

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Bacon from Caveman Gourmet. Intriguing!

Healthier Superbowl Foods - squash with sausage and cheese appetizer

Summer Squash (or Zucchini) Topped with Sausage and Cheese from yours truly! These can be mostly-made ahead, then baked or reheated at the last minute.

Buffalo Chicken Quesadillas (with Avocado) from Half Hour Meals

No-bake Energy Bites from Smashed Peas and Carrots. Use the syrupy sweetener of your choice: honey, maple or agave. And experiment with mix-ins: chocolate, craisins, cashews…